You may have heard the expression, "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Unfortunately, this may not be true when it comes to your biometrics like Heart Rate Variability.
A night or weekend out can take a toll whether you are at a graduation party locally or a bachelor - bachelorette party in Vegas. A weekend of drinking, staying out late, eating junk foods, or partying creates stress to your body that takes time to recover.
The good news is that you can be healthy and still celebrate life. Once you understand common pitfalls to a weekend of partying, you can control the damage and recover more quickly.
Here are some of the ways a weekend binge may affect your health:
- Lack of sleep - Sleep deprivation has so many negative effects short and long term. In some cases, lack of sleep may account for most of the biometric changes that happen after a night or weekend partying.
- Dehydration - Dehydration is one of the more dangerous risks associated with partying. Much of the unpleasantness associated with a "hangover" stems from dehydration.
- Poor food choices - Many people who normally eat well reach fors treats when socializing. Also, alcohol or cannabis use lower inhibitions and as a result people tend to consume burgers, fries, and high-calorie snack foods late at night. Sometimes these treats may also affect sleep quality.
- Alcohol use - Drinking starts to effect biometrics like HRV as early as 2-3 drinks and sometimes sooner depending on your metabolism. The body works hard to metabolize the alcohol which results in increased basal temperature, decreased HRV, and other temporary changes.
- Cannabis use - Speaking of Vegas... Sometimes people indulge when they visit Vegas or one of the other areas that legalized recreational marijuana.
- Fatigue and exhaustion - Walking around, lively conversation, dancing, playing games are all invigorating but tiring. When combined with fewer hours of sleep, fatigue takes a toll.
- Decreased activity the following days - When someone feels hungover that person tends to move less and skip workouts. We advocate using HRV to see when you need to take rest days.
How A Weekend in Vegas Affects Biometrics
Of course you don't need to visit Las Vegas to experience the effects of a weekend party. All over the country, graduations, weddings and summer weather lead to similar behaviors. So why are we talking about Vegas? A generous Biostrap user shared screenshots illustrating how a weekend in Vegas affected his biometrics. We took poetic license with the exact activities since there are so many temptations that alter biometrics.
1. Our friend's sleep quality was dramatically reduced. He was remarkably responsible getting nearly 6 hours of sleep, however over time this pattern results in sleep debt. Six hours of quality sleep may be fine once in a while, however some activities like late night eating or alcohol use also decrease the quality of that sleep.
2. Notice below how his resting heart rate elevated the next morning. This may be due to a range of reasons including decreased sleep and metabolizing alcohol or food from the previous night.
By considering not only a users' current resting heart rate, but the context of previous readings, the Biostrap platform is able to understand your current physiological well-being against your overall baseline.
3. Our fellow Vegas Patron's HRV reading also appeared lower than averages. This may be one of the most telling signs that his body experienced stress. People typically see overnight HRV drops when fighting an illness, feeling stressed, the day after a high-intensity workout, or after running a marathon. Well, perhaps a weekend in Vegas is a little like a marathon in some ways.
What You Can Do to Minimize the Negative Effects of Partying
First, plan ahead if you know you have a late night or party weekend approaching.
- Catch up on your sleep in the days or weeks leading up to the night out. When you approach it well rested, then sleep debt won't affect you as much. If you are traveling to a destination like Vegas, this is especially important.
- Pre-hydrate! Dehydration is dangerous, according to WebMD. Remember to hydrate well in the days leading up to your trip and to sip water frequently while out. Alternating water with an adult beverage also helps cut down on drinking alcohol. Don't go overboard, there is a condition called hyponatremia that sometimes happens from very excessive water consumption.
- Eat healthy in the weeks leading up to your event so indulgences are not as damaging.
- Plan your workouts to allow a rest day after your event.
How You Can Better Recover
Just be aware your weekend was a stressful event to your body. Give yourself time to recover just like you would an illness or vigorous challenge like a marathon.
- Try to budget an extra 20-30 minutes of sleep for the next few nights
- Make a special effort to restore fluids and electrolytes
- Consider taking a rest day or two, then ease back into your fitness schedule
- Eat a little lighter for the next few days to make up for any overeating.
- Try to manage or avoid unnecessary stress for a few days
A healthy human body is remarkably resilient, a little rest may be all you need to recover. Use your Biostrap to gauge your results.